Here in the Orwellian gulag that is Woke New England even family gatherings are a fatal thought-crime punishable by whatever means is imagined most effective at discouraging the proles from following so sinful an example. And mothers of young children are the easiest to frighten into following whatever bizarre and depressing rules are forced upon them.
And so, throughout this sad exercise in government overreach my grandchildren have for the most part been held away from me and Camera Girl by their parents mostly out of fear for our health. And no grandfather is foolish enough to argue with his daughter when she is concerned about the health of her children. All you can say is, “Do what you think is best for the kids.”
But yesterday was a great day, a turning of the tide. My daughter and my son-in-law brought over our grandsons for a barbecue and games in the yard. No masks, no distancing, no nothing. Camera Girl outdid herself with wonderful food that we enjoyed on the porch with badminton and other outdoor pursuits. The four boys immediately reverted to true form and scuffled and bickered about every interaction. It was glorious. Even the weather was cooperative. It was overcast and the temperature hovered around 75 degrees which meant no swimming pool but just the perfect temperature for me to participate in sporting activity without breaking a sweat. And that allowed me to spend the maximum time with the kids instead of the adults. Perfect.
I got to talk with my oldest grandson about his sophomore high school curriculum and offer help with chemistry and math if he needed it. I talked to his brother about his eighth-grade classes and his sports interests. And with the two younger guys I just talked dinosaurs and toys. Apparently, T. rex still reigns supreme with the four-year-old although opened up an alternative category for herbivores and awarded it to Diplodocus.
I also got to talk to my daughter and son-in-law about how they were keeping these housebound boys busy this summer and was impressed by their ingenuity and energy. I will confess I wouldn’t have had the stamina. And it did my heart good to see Camera Girl laughing and playing with her younger grandsons and indulging all of their food requests up to and including various ice cream products that are forbidden to me! I could tell that she was reveling in this socializing just as much as I was.
When they finally went home after a full day of fun, we cleaned up the wreckage of the gathering and traded favorite moments and observations on how much the boys had grown. And it was then that I realized what an empty world this crazy quarantine has created. What they say about not knowing what you have until it’s gone was made blindingly clear yesterday.
So, forgive this long rambling preamble into my domestic situation. The point of this essay is acknowledging the real damage that isolating family members does and a philosophical question on quality of life. If you are a grandparent being shut out of your grandchildren’s lives is a depressing and painful thing. If children’s educations are interrupted that is a dangerous loss to our whole society.
Formerly we always placed the welfare of children before everything else. If you are a grandparent how much of your grandchildren’s lives are you willing to waste to slightly increase your own odds of living? Now admittedly I’m not the highest risk of dying from COVID-19. I’m at the beginning of the age demographic affected but my health is reasonably robust. So maybe this thing isn’t real enough to me make me afraid. On the other hand, someone in our family died of the virus and another person needed hospital care and cutting-edge medicine to survive it. So maybe I am aware of the stakes.
From my point of view, I would say the children ought to be allowed to go to school. If there are teachers who are at risk, they should be retired, at least temporarily, at attractive financial terms and let the kids get on with their lives. The people at greatest risk from all this are the elderly and the chronically ill who live in homes with school age children. Let the doctors figure out the best way to protect these people and let everyone else get back to normal life.
Saving the sick and elderly is a laudable humanitarian goal. But what can you say about a society that sacrifices the precious youth of a generation to marginally advantage the life span of the very old? Do we duck and cover every year during flu season? After all, the same elderly population is the one that accounts for 90% of the tens of thousands of flu deaths that occur every year in the United States alone. Are we denying that people, especially the very frail and sick will die eventually? Have we lost all sense of proportion? And does that mean grandmothers and great grandmothers have forfeited permanently the right to hug and kiss their grandchildren and great grandchildren? That’s pretty sad. I guess I can’t speak for anyone but myself but I vote to end this madness and if I keel over tomorrow from COVID-19 or any other virus that the Chinese dig out of a cave I’ll go happy knowing I got to share a meal with my family and play a game of ball with my grandsons.